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Big Shoes to Fill

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Shimon Ginian’s family is passionate about shoes. Since 1936, when his grandfather started Ginian Shoes in Jerusalem’s Geulah neighborhood, shoes have been the family business

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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W hat kind of work do your parents do? Do you even know exactly what they do? There’s one kind of business where you’d never have to ask what your parents do, or who they work with: a family business.

In a family business, your “coworkers” are other family members: grandmothers, uncles, cousins, all helping build a business that is like part of the family. Maybe it’s a bakery, a bookstore, a coffee shop, or even a florist. All you need to start or grow a family business is a few family members who share the same passion.

Shimon Ginian’s family is passionate about shoes. Since 1936, when his grandfather started Ginian Shoes in Jerusalem’s Geulah neighborhood, shoes have been the family business. Shimon grew up hearing about shoes, surrounded by shoes, and working in shoe production. “After school, I’d come into the store where my father and grandfather were working together. Something about that unity and cooperation fascinated me.”

In other words, shoes are not just his life, they’re his entire family’s life. Now, Shimon is part of the third generation of Ginians helping not only to run the store but also to manufacture high-quality shoes for women and children that are now being sold all over the world.

Keeping it in the family

In a family business, your “coworkers” are other family members: grandmothers, uncles, cousins all working together to build a business that is part of the family. But keeping the business in the family doesn’t mean family members are the only people who work for Ginian Shoes. In fact, the company has a factory in China with over 220 workers, meaning that this small family business includes quite a lot of travel for Shimon and his father.

The China connection

Originally, the shoes were handmade by Shimon’s grandfather, also named Shimon. “He was a very popular shoemaker. He would measure your feet and then create your shoes by hand. It took him one week to make a pair of shoes.” He soon opened a small factory in Jaffa where he could manufacture shoes faster and more efficiently.

 

After Shimon’s father Mordechai joined the family business, production moved to Portugal and Italy, and until not long ago, Ginian Shoes was manufacturing most of its shoes in Europe. Recently, the family decided that it made sense to shift most of their production to China.

Shimon and his father travel to China every two months to keep an eye on production and meet with workers. “We know a little Chinese,” he says modestly. “We have some workers who translate, guys who have worked with my father for ten years already.”

Wherever in the world they manufacture the shoes, one essential thing hasn’t changed: The company still makes all its shoes by hand, just as Shimon’s grandfather did in Geulah. “To this day, we keep everything handmade,” says Shimon. “All the stitching, all the glue — it’s still done by hand.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 705)

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